Rich in Heritage and and Tradition
…is our Soil,Vine and Wine.
The Burge Family Winemaking tradition first started in the late 1860s with John Burge, who migrated to South Australia from Wiltshire (UK) in 1855. By the turn of the century production ceased and all equipment was sold by John’s son Meshach, and it wasn’t until 1928 that John’s grandson ‘Percival’ recommenced winemaking. Times were tough and about to get worse with falling grape prices and an impending depression.
With determination and a growing reputation for the quality of his wine, Percival’s business steadily grew and in 1950 he was joined in the winemaking responsibilities by his son Noel Burge, being one of Australia’s first qualified winemakers by graduating from the first intake of Roseworthy Oenology students in 1938.
In 1986, Noel was joined in-turn by his son Richard (Rick) who, having purchased the shareholding off other family members, immediately set about revitalising the family firm.
Success soon followed, by way of not only wine show trophies and gold medals, but also, more importantly, a steadily increasing band of satisfied customers who would purchase all of the output direct from Rick Burge’s stylish cellar-door at Lyndoch.
In addition to the family wine background, winemaker Rick Burge has over 40 years’ experience, covering most facets of the wine industry. After leaving Roseworthy College he managed the respectful Melbourne wine merchant W.J. Seabrook, before accepting an employment offer from Brown Brothers where he successfully relaunched St Leonards Vineyard label for its Milawa based owners: experience which was to prove invaluable in revitalising the family business, which commenced on Rick’s return to the Barossa in 1986.
Rick Burge was also the viticulturalist for the 25 acres under vine at Lyndoch and over 10 years since his return replanted over half the vineyard which surrounds the historic ‘Draycott’ homestead. The emphasis is on low-yielding, highly flavoured and coloured Shiraz, together with 100-year-old Grenache vines. Cabernet Sauvignon, Mourvedre, Mataro, Zinfandel, Nebbiolo, Souzao, Tinta Cao, Merlot and Touriga plus Semillon, Roussanne, and Muscat Blanc making up the whites.
Rick has a policy of non-intervention. Most of the Shiraz and Grenache is dry-grown with no weedicides, fungicides, insecticides or synthetic fertilisers being used in the production of the grapes together with fertile, well-drained soils and a favourable meso-climate. Some irrigation is permitted in extraordinary drought conditions, only to maintain the health of the vine and bud fruitfulness for the following season.
To sum up Rick’s philosophy, “Aiming to make great wine requires a degree of humility. With success comes the realisation of relatively how little you really know about this wonderful beverage, life’s lubricant. Keep the bullshit and hype to a minimum and allow consumers to catch on to your product on their own accord.”
When it comes to winemaking, Rick is very much a ‘minimalist’ and believing very much in French concept of ‘terroir’, he prefers to do most of his winemaking in the vineyard in the 5 months leading up to harvest, controlling yields, managing a flavour-inducing canopy and generally aiming for the best possible sugar/acid/flavour balance.
This philosophy is evident in his wines, which are invariably richly coloured and flavoursome, show great natural balance and an ability to age gracefully. A range of estate grown varietals and blends, headed by the impressive ‘Draycott’ Shiraz are available from the cellars.